Boys cross country / Class 3A state meet
Where: Detweiller Park, Peoria
When: Saturday, Class 3A at 2 p.m.
Teams to watch: York seemed to be the team to beat in September after rolling to victories at Peoria Notre Dame's meet and the Palatine Invite, but the Dukes hit a bump in the road in October. York won the West Suburban Silver Conference meet by only 12 points and was second behind New Trier at the Lake Park sectional. So is York vunerable? Maybe, but the Dukes have won 28 state titles and will be ready to roll on Saturday. Conference foe Hinsdale Central won its sectional and could give York some headaches; the Red Devils took second in the Silver Division and and gave the Dukes all they could handle. O'Fallon is also a team that should be watched. Senior Patrick Perrier will be the individual favorite and will lead O'Fallon. Hersey will also be in the mix for a state trophy and has the depth to pull off something special in Peoria. Wheaton Warrenville South, Downers Grove North, and New Trier are dangerous and will be in the trophy hunt.
Hersey: The Huskies have rolled through the postseason, winning the Mid-Suburban League, Hoffman regional and Schaumburg sectional titles. Senior Andy Philipose and junior David Rodriguez will be in the hunt for individual state medals. Seniors Erick DeLoera, Jack O'Neil, and Matt Stadnicki combine with juniors Kevin Ziegenhorn and Grant Von Der Lippe in giving the Huskies plenty of depth. Hersey will contend for a title and seem to be a good bet to lock down their first state trophy since 1972.
Buffalo Grove: The Bison have had their share of adversity this season. Top runner Steven Salvano, who finished ninth in Class 3A last season, has battled a virus virtually allseason and the team had a coaching change in midseason with Zach Crandall taking control. But BG had one of its strongest showings of the year finishing second at the Schaumburg sectional. Sophomore Kevin Salvano, junior Jake Wenzel, and sophomore Tom Cleary went 14-15-16 at the sectionals with Steven Salvano adding a 25th-place finish. Kevin Salvano will be in the hunt for an individual state medal. Junior Montana Nimerfroh missed sectionals but will add depth on Saturday. This is only BG's second state appearance and the Bison are peaking at the right time.
Palatine: The Pirates qualified for their 28th state appearance. Junior Graham Brown will make a push for a state medal and will lead the attack. Seniors Argeni Bailon and Emil Kozakiewicz also will also push the pace. Junior Connor McGough did not finish at the sectional race but will be needed on Saturday. This was not one of Palatine's strongest teams in a historical sense, but the Pirates are always dangerous.
Conant: The Cougars rebounded from a rough MSL meet to qualify for the state meet. Junior Zach Dale, the MSL individual champion, will be among the top runners and is on schedule for a top-five finish. Dale has had a remarkable season and finished second at the Schaumburg sectional. Juniors James Janczy and Shujaat Sultan have also made plenty of progress this season. Senior James Pesce came up big at the sectional meet and will add to the Cougars attack. Next year was "supposed" to be Conant's year, but the Cougars have arrived early.
Prospect:The Knights started the season slow, losing dual meets to Palatine, Hersey and BG, but they've finished strong. Junior Mike Anderson and senior Blake Hallman have powered the Knights' attack this season and will lead the charge on Saturday. Senior Ben Pederson, senior Max Daleiden and sophomore Alec Heyde will also contribute.
Individuals to watch
O'Fallon senior Patrick Perrier finished third in Class 3A last season and is the favorite on Saturday. McHenry junior Jesse Reiser pulled away in the final mile to win the Schaumburg sectional. The Warriors junior has the closing speed to make a difference on Saturday. Conant junior Zach Dale also should be among the top five. Downers Grove North senior Zack Smith and junior Ryan Clevenger went 1-2 at the Hinsdale Central Sectional and will be among the leaders on Saturday. York senior Nathan Mroz, Wheaton Warrenville South senior Nolan McKenna, Wheaton North Joseph Emmanuel, Hinsdale Central senior Billy Magnesen and Plainfied South senior Dan Lathrop will be in the mix in a very competitive race.
Billy Thomas, Hoffman Estates: The Hawks junior had a fast start before an injury slowed his progress. But Thomas has been coming on strong since the MSL meet, finishing fifth at the Schaumburg sectional. Thomas has the drive to grab a state medal.
Harry Winter, Fremd: The Vikings senior missed qualifying last year due to an injury but he has been solid from start to finish this season in pacing the Vikings attack. Winter has shown he can run with the leaders and will be looking for a state medal on Saturday.
Nick Vucovich, Fremd: Vucovich opened some eyes with his performance this season. The Vikings senior came up big with an 11th-place finish at the Schaumburg sectional. Vucovich has been closing hard the past few weeks and will be looking for a big finish on Saturday.
Nick Brey, St. Viator: The Lions senior took first at the East Suburban Catholic Conference meet and will be seeking Viator's first individual state medal since former Hersey coach Tim Phillips took 25th in 1983. Brey has top 10 potential and will be a force on Saturday. The Class 2A meet will start at noon on Saturday.